Reading the news it seems that every day we’re on the edge of environmental collapse. From damaging floods to suffocating plastic waste and global warming, the problems keep on coming. And they’re devastating.
Given the scale, it may seem there is little we can do about it, but small changes over time can – and do – make a difference. Here are some simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint at home and lessen your impact on our environment.
What Is a Carbon Footprint?
The term carbon footprint describes the amount of carbon dioxide an action releases into the atmosphere.
Everything we use or do emits carbon dioxide. Driving, tumble drying clothes, leaving a light on all evening. It’s calculated that, on average, we’re each responsible for producing 9 tonnes of C02 per year.
Simple Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Have a Positive Impact
Address Your Energy Levels
Taking a look at your energy consumption helps the environment and can save you a surprising amount of money.
You can use less energy by selecting the lowest temperature on your washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher. Replacing older white goods with newer, more energy efficient ones helps too. Switching from old fashioned light bulbs to energy saving LED bulbs. And always remember to turn them off when you leave the room.
Insulating your home reduces the quantity of energy needed to keep it warm. Plug gaps in windows and doors that cause drafts, insulate your loft and think about filling cavity walls to trap heat. If your boiler is getting old, consider replacing it with an energy efficient one.
There are plenty of new providers offering green energy, and it’s worth changing to one. Green energy is created by renewable sources such as wind turbines, sunlight, and tidal patterns. This is in stark contrast to fossil fuels that pollute the environment and will eventually run out.
Using less water can make a difference too. Have a quick shower and wash up every other night instead of putting on a half-filled dishwasher. Get a water butt to collect rain water to drench your grass and when you wash the car, use a bucket not a hosepipe.
Change Your Food Habits
As a nation, we waste an awful lot of food!
It’s estimated the UK throws away a massive 24 million slices of bread each day. You can cut down on food waste by sticking to a simple shopping list, and freezing what you don’t use. A good tip is to avoid food shopping when you are hungry, or shop online to avoid impulse purchases.
Vegetarian and vegan diets help the planet immensely. It’s more humane and better for your health to eat more veggies, so try cutting down on meat and dairy. Raising cows, chicken, pigs and sheep requires a huge amount of energy. They also produce large amounts of methane gas which adds to global warming.
Another good way to address your carbon footprint is to eat more locally produced foods. This not only cuts down on transport miles, or ‘food miles’. It creates a seasonal eating pattern which reduces the need for mass heated greenhouses to produce soft fruits all year round. You’ll find the food tastes better too, because it’s naturally ripe, not forced into ripening.
Don’t forget to reuse leftovers whenever you can and compost any food waste that can’t be reused.
Put Plastic Reduction at the Top of Your List
Plastic waste is big news, as plastic bags, bottles and packaging choke up our seas and rivers on a global scale.
You can reduce plastic use by choosing products without so much packaging. If you feel some foods have too much packaging, tell the manufacturer about it. And lobby your MP when an environmental issue comes up – it all makes a difference!
Try to avoid single-use items like straws, cotton buds, and plastic cups. It takes a lot of energy to make and dispose of single-use plastics. So if you do buy them try to reuse them and offset the carbon cost. For example if you buy bottled water keep the bottle, refill and use it again.
Your Individual Actions DO Make a Difference
Faced with the enormous problem of environmental change, our personal habits may seem insignificant. But small changes make a big difference; and small changes aren’t as difficult to make.
England’s use of plastic bags dropped 85% in the first year of the 5p charge. That’s 500 million bags instead of 7 billion left to float around our environment: a staggering achievement.
We are the first line of defence when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint at home. Each one of our little changes add up to big ones over time. YOUR actions and voice can make a big difference to carbon emissions and the health of our planet. So what change will you make today?